Straus Library will be filled with song this Friday night as the 11th annual Gospel Explosion unfolds with performances and praise.
Gospel Explosion started in 2009 when Lami Olatunji ’10 approached Gospel Choir Director Lori Dow with the idea of celebrating gospel music in coordination with Black History Month. Over the years, the program has evolved, with some events featuring performances by outside groups, and others featuring combinations of Milton’s musical ensembles. Last year, Milton’s chamber singers and orchestra musicians collaborated on some pieces.
“Every single year, the program changes,” Lori explains. “We’ve had great parent participation and support, and we’ve had alumni come back to perform with us. It’s always been about more than just Milton’s Gospel Choir. It’s about taking this love of gospel music and sharing it with the whole community.”
This year, Gospel Explosion coincides with Valentine’s Day, and Lori and musical director Briana Washington are working with the theme of love: Love for God and for one another will be celebrated. The event is free and open to everyone, Lori says, and audience members do not have to observe any religion to enjoy the music. Although the Gospel Choir sings Christian music, Lori said people of all faiths, and those who are not religious, are welcome.
“We try to pick songs that are both moving and spiritual, but don’t make people feel uncomfortable if it’s not something that they believe in,” she says. “As I’ve told our singers, you never know which song is going to touch someone. Some of the students in the audience are church-goers who know this music, and many others just enjoy singing, and some are there to support their friends.”
The student leaders of the Gospel Choir this year are Jayla Stallings ’20, Jayla Rhodes ’20, Stefan Aleksic ’20, and Oghenerukevwe Omusi ’21.
Gospel Explosion begins at 7:30 p.m. in Straus Library on Friday, February 14.